With a few months in, 2022 already seems very promising for social media and influencer marketing. If there is something the pandemic has taught us, digital marketing is here to stay! India’s digital advertising market has been predicted to grow exponentially over the next ten years. This phenomenal growth has made advertisers, brands and marketers wake up and formulate new ways to market their products to their target/niche audience. But how do big international brands appeal to the Indian audience effectively? The regional and national Indian influencer network comes into the picture.
Before we delve deeper into the subject, it is essential to understand who is an influencer. Anyone who has deep knowledge of a specific niche or area, shares their expertise through content creation and manages to influence others effectively can be deemed an influencer. A successful influencer need not have a necessarily large following but a more dedicated following community who looks up to them for product recommendations and tips. In short, anyone with a significant( or dedicated) social media following on influencer marketing tools like Youtube and Instagram, armed with a deep understanding of excellent and relatable content, can be called an influencer.
A recent report on India’s Influencer marketing industry prepared by GroupM and Exhange4Media group reveals that about 400 million Indians had access to social media before the pandemic. This number almost doubled in the pandemic era. Customer behaviour shows that the top 4 categories that contribute to 70% of influencer marketing are Personal Care (25%), F&B (20%), Fashion and jewellery ( 15%) and lastly, mobile and other electronics( 10%). About ⅔ of the Indian population follow one or more influencers who consume their content daily. Additionally, there is a 54% increase in influencers from Tier II and Tier III cities in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle areas. Nowadays, companies and brands do endorsements and product placements with essential influencers in their niche.
This also helps the brand to reach regional customers who probably wouldn’t have heard about the brand if not for the influencer. Also, companies have learned to value the trust and follow that these influencers have; hence, they recommend something that is much more effective than direct brand marketing in many cases. No wonder brands have stepped up their game in terms of advertising and tied up with influencers. They have realised that word-of-mouth publicity is still a big thing in India. Hence, becoming more “visible” to a more extensive audience base beyond metropolitan cities is essential. As a result, companies have started to invest more in influencer marketing.
Now that we have established the immense relevance of influencer marketing, a question arises as to how brands can implement this strategy. The obvious answer is to take professional help from a “middleman” or an influencer marketing agency in this case. Their work is cut out since they have to shortlist the right influencers for their niche. A lot of points have to be factored in like:
- Whether the influencer is relevant or not. This means gauging their social engagement levels, content types and videos, and whether they align with the brand’s voice.
- Analysing the influencer’s niche audience and whether they coincide with the brand’s target demographic.
These influencer marketing agencies help run and execute influencer campaigns for brands. They also help formulate content strategies that will help enhance the exposure of brands effectively to the target customer base. The following process, in particular, has helped keep the buzz of online marketing alive:
1.Short format contents- Visually rich image content like Instagram reels, stories, and live sessions had the same content and product placement, creating a genuine interest in the products in the customer’s mind. This, in turn, increases demand for the effects these influencers are using. Nowadays, companies understand the importance of this virtual word-of-mouth publicity from trusted accomplices.
2.Micro-influencers- Micro-influencers are those with a lower follower count yet have a dedicated following. Influencers making content in regional languages can be categorised as micro-influencers. For example, a channel that specialises in only home-style Gujrati cuisine is a micro-influencer, while a channel with only Indian home cooking recipes is simply another food channel. Brands have realised that through micro-influencers, they will be able to reach a niche audience who are looking for specialised products and services. It helps drive their engagement levels and relatability. Plus, smaller content creators don’t charge as much, making it a win-win situation for both!
3.Guidelines- As influencer marketing rose in popularity, the government noticed and set up new guidelines for smooth and transparent operations of the social media marketing ecosystem. ASCI has specific guidelines on influencer content so that customers can get refined and authentic content. This has also helped influencers realise that the online marketplace is here! Therefore, they need to speak their mind in terms of product quality and be consistent with it since they recommend the products.
And here is the cherry on top: influencers prefer long-term relationships with brands instead of short projects. This is a win-win situation since brands get time to build reliability and trust for both the influencer and the brand. It also helps improve the credibility of the brand in question.
Bottom line: Influencer marketing tools in India are more vital than ever!
In a classic twist of the hunted becoming the hunter, influencers have started peddling their goods to gain a steady source of income beyond their endorsement deals. With the help of Facebook and Instagram, these influencers have built their brand value and are encashing it by releasing their line of merchandise like clothing, accessories etc. Entrepreneurial influencers are the new norm in India and elsewhere, and it’s here to stay for the long run! Interestingly enough, even service-based brands are looking for online engagements through live workshops and sessions that might convince the customer to try their service. It is safe to say that the Indian influencer network has been going strong and is expected to grow in the coming years.